A no-contact order and a restraining order are court documents that provide protection to people who are in dangerous situations. However, there are differences in the way the two orders function.
The judge in a criminal case automatically issues a no-contact order as a condition of the defendant's bond. A judge in a civil case may issue a restraining order in response to a plaintiff's petition.
A no-contact order normally remains in effect until the conclusion of a criminal case; a judge decides the term of a restraining order.
The intent of both orders is to protect a victim. They both prohibit the subject of the order from having physical contact with the victim, from harassing the victim and from threatening the victim.
If a defendant released on bond violates a no-contact order, the judge may order the defendant's return to jail. If the subject of a restraining order violates it, the plaintiff can notify law enforcement and have the violator arrested.
In a divorce case, a restraining order can prevent a spouse from disposing of community property until the dispute is settled.